Psychology defines emotions as a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes and influences thoughts and behaviors. According to David Meyers, human emotions comprise of “…psychological arousal, expressive behavior and conscious experience.” A range of psychological phenomena including temperament, personality and motivation are thought to be associated with emotionality.
Three main categories of theories of emotions have been evolved. Physiological theories suggest that the responses of the body are responsible for emotions; Neurological theories argue that it is the brain activity that leads to responses; while cognitive theories thoughts and other mental activities play vital role in the arousal of emotions.
Emotions can play an important role in how we think and behave. First, it is important to understand the three critical components of an emotion. Our emotions are composed of a subjective component (how we experience the emotion), a physiological component (how our bodies react to the emotion), and an expressive component (how we behave in response to the emotion). These different elements can play a role in the function and purpose of our emotional responses.
Cognitive appraisal, bodily symptoms, action tendencies, feelings, and expressions are thought to be the major component of emotions. As a result of 40 years of research, Paul Eckman succeeded in classifying six emotions as basic. These include anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.
Emotion regulation refers to the cognitive and behavioral strategies people adopt to influence their own emotional experience. For example, a behavioral tactic in which one evades a condition to elude undesirable emotions (e.g., trying not to think about the situation, doing distracting activities, etc.). We also tend to take certain actions in order to experience positive emotions and minimize the probability of feeling negative emotions. For example, you might seek out social activities or hobbies that provide you with a sense of happiness, contentment, and excitement. On the other hand, you would probably avoid situations that might potentially lead to boredom, sadness, or anxiety.
Sigmund Freud believed that mental illness came from repressed emotions in the unconscious mind. Freud believed that release and acceptance of these denied or repressed emotions and memories were vital for mental health. If this emotional energy was not released, Freud noted that it led to physiological symptoms and illnesses. He termed these physiological manifestations of emotions “psychosomatic.” Severe psychosomatic cases of repressed memories of trauma led to a diagnosis of “hysteria.”
By: Aimon Tanvir Malghani